Dijon sits at the centre of Burgundy, the gastronomic heartland of France and home to such classic dishes as boeuf bourguignon and coq au vin, as well as some of the world’s finest pinot noir and chardonnay vineyards. Explore its culinary accomplishment in one of these ten wonderful restaurants.
The Auberge is the brainchild of chef Philippe Poillot and is the ideal place to start a gastronomic tour of Dijon. Established in 2010, the Auberge is a short distance from central Dijon and faces onto the village square at Chenôve, where it was once the local café. The simple menu pays homage to traditional Burgundian cuisine and ingredients, and the wine-list is limited to excellent Burgundy and Marsannay wines. Be sure to try the classic eggs meurette, poached in red wine with soft Epoisses cheese and local mustard. The interior features include exposed wooden beams and stone flagged flooring to give a warm, characterful feel and transmit the connection to the land that underpins Burgundian cuisine.
La Dame d’Aquitaine offers something a bit magical. The restaurant lies underneath the Place Bossuet in central Dijon, in the 13th century crypt of the former abbey of Saint-Jean. You reach the restaurant by going through the superb 17th century mansion of Perreney de Balleure before descending the stairs to dine beneath wonderful Gothic ribbed vaults and pointed arches. The service is renowned locally for being friendly and welcoming. Chef Laurent Perriguey offers a menu that emphasises seasonality, colour, and strong flavors; the Burgundy rabbit served with kidneys and mustard is a particular speciality. Be sure also to explore the extensive wine list; along with a selection of premier cru wines from Cote d’Or vineyards, there are plenty of village wines available. These are often the most intriguing Burgundy wines, with all the grapes used coming from a single village.
Restaurant Stéphane Derbord prides itself on offering a warm welcome and excellent food made with the finest local produce. Chef Stéphane Derbord has a reputation for taking traditional dishes and executing them brilliantly. The menu has earned Restaurant Stéphane Derbord a Michelin star, and features hearty dishes such as smoked pike perch, duck foie gras, calves’ feet, and duck breasts from the Dombes region. The dessert menu is a little more exotic; if you are feeling adventurous opt for banana, pineapple and mango cake, with pineapple carpaccio with curry and cinnamon. There is a fantastically uncluttered look to the décor; light pours into the restaurant onto white tablecloths and stylish wooden furniture for a relaxed, modern feel.
Le Pré aux Clercs offers an indulgent, unforgettable dining experience. The restaurant is on the Place de la Libération, the historic central square of Dijon. From inside the 18th century Baroque building that houses the restaurant, diners look out at the magnificent Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy. The food is of a standard to match the spectacular surroundings, and father-and-son team Jean-Pierre and Alexis Billoux hold a Michelin star for their superb menu. There is a strong emphasis on the finest Burgundian produce and big earthy flavors. Particular specialities at Le Pré aux Clercs include Bresse chicken, Burgundy truffles, and langoustines cooked with star anise. Sit out on the terrace during the summer and survey the grandeur of Dijon.
Le Piano Qui Fume, Dijon | Images courtesy of Le Piano Qui Fume
The curiously named ‘Smoking Piano’ is a great spot in which to sit back and enjoy watching the world go by while listening to the conversations of ordinary Dijonnais. Well-hidden on the Rue Berbisey, Le Piano Qui Fume is an uncomplicated small bistro more popular with locals than tourists. The menu and décor eschew over-refinement and provide the authentic Dijon bistro experience, with stone walls and wooden beams ensuring a relaxed, informal ambience. The chef Monsieur Didier stresses the importance of taking time and care over food, and everything is prepared on-site. The menu is traditional Burgundian, trusting the quality of the ingredients to shine through. Dishes to look out for include chicken with local morels, fresh fish from the market, and the mango vacherin for dessert.
The DZ stands for David Zuddas, the brilliant chef behind DZ’envies. Established in 2008 on the rue Odebert, Zuddas has a reputation for unforgettable and inventive cuisine. A self-proclaimed ‘kitchen militant’, Zuddas combines North African and Japanese flavours with French technique. His approach is passionate, eclectic, and highly experimental, and has earned him a Michelin Bib Gourmand award. Look out for signature dishes including smoked mackerel with Asian shiitake mushrooms, and traditional Gigotin chicken with basmati rice. There are classics like boeuf bourguignon if you fancy something more restrained. The interior design is appropriately relaxed and informal, with white furniture providing a chic, contemporary look.
Dijon’s premier restaurant, the Hostellerie du Chapeau Rouge, boasts two Michelin stars. Chef William Frachot stands at the forefront of contemporary Burgundian cuisine, with influences taken from his time in Canada and Britain. Located close to Dijon Cathedral and the Musee des Beaux Arts, the Hostellerie is ideal if you want the highest-quality contemporary French cuisine and superb wine; sommelier Maxime Brunet took the Best Young Sommelier in France award in 2013. There are some amazing flavour combinations available; veal kidneys with grapefruit, and Venezuelan chocolate with sesame seeds for dessert, and a stress on vegetable and mineral flavours such as truffle, asparagus and wild garlic. The décor compliments the food, with tree-bark and green walls providing a sensory experience to chime with the natural flavors.
La Maison des Cariatides offers an intriguing mix of the old and the new. Situated a few streets north of the place de la Libération, La Maison presents a grand facade to the street, with the 17th century exterior adorned with pediments and caryatids in the style of the Renaissance Dijonnais sculptor Hugues Sambin. Step inside, though, and there is a wonderfully light, airy, relaxed atmosphere with contemporary features. There is a laudable determination to avoid food waste, so you can expect fresh, handpicked ingredients. The menu is innovative, with every dish featuring details of where the produce was sourced; lamb and veal from Ferme de Clavisy, and cheese from Ferme de Poiset.
Just south of central Dijon, Restaurant So is perfect if you are looking for an alternative to traditional Burgundian cuisine. Highly regarded and increasingly popular with locals, Restaurant So is run by Japanese chef So Takahashi with wife Rié providing front-of-house service. The cuisine is a brilliant combination of French ingredients from the nearby market with Japanese cooking techniques and presentation methods. You can expect a lighter, more delicate approach to local Burgundian produce with delicacies such as Bresse chicken and foie gras. Restaurant So is particularly renowned for the quality and perfect execution of their fish dishes, ranging from cod to sea snails and razor clams bought daily from the market.
Part of the Grand Hotel once frequented by Princess Grace of Monaco, Le Jardins de la Cloche is now something of a well-kept secret, offering classic French cuisine in grand surroundings. Despite being only a short distance from the city centre, Le Jardins de la Cloche offers a tranquil and beautiful terrace garden in which to relax and dine. You can also be served inside in the restaurant with its purple walls hinting at regal decadence, or in the wood-panelled Library Bar where you can enjoy a liqueur whilst browsing the tomes. There are several menu options to tempt you; the ‘Flavours of Burgundy’ is quick and simple and lets you sample classic dishes such as snails with garlic and parsley, and eggs meurette.